South Africa: Things Fall Apart in the Church of Refugees


The centre cannot hold. Two and half months into the Cape Town refugee crisis, things are unravelling at the Central Methodist Mission. The group of displaced migrants have split into two hostile groups, while violence, court cases and allegations hang over them. Still, they hold on to the glimmer of hope for group resettlement out of a South Africa known for its xenophobia.

It's another scorching hot afternoon in Cape Town. Outside the Central Methodist Mission on Greenmarket Square, the air is thick with the stench of urine. Yet the area is bustling with activity as children play in the streets and women cook large pots of stew over open fires.

But all is not well among the refugees. A series of makeshift tents has popped up on two adjacent streets near the church. Underneath, groups of people lay listlessly, escaping the heat. These displaced migrants have been banished outside the church building, after a bitter dispute between refugee leaders, Papy Sukami and Jean-Pierre Balous, caused a split two weeks ago .

Now, Balous' supporters dwell indoors while Sukami's faction is squatting on the pavement.

In a strange twist, both leaders were arrested on separate criminal charges. Despite being released...

More From: Daily Maverick

Don't Miss

AllAfrica publishes around 800 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.